Java 8 Update 201 fixes five security bugs

Oracle just released their first quarterly Critical Patch Update Advisory for 2019.

These advisories cover a lot of Oracle software, most of which is likely of very little interest for ordinary users. But buried in each of these reports you’ll usually find a reference to a new version of Java.

It’s increasingly unlikely that you have a shared Java installation on your Windows computer. You may run Java applications, such as Minecraft and some network and Internet tools, but these often include their own, separate installs of Java now.

The easiest way to see whether you have a shared install of Java on your Windows 7 or 8.x computer is to go to the Control Panel and look for a Java entry. If you see one, open it up and go to the Update tab, then click the Update Now button. If there’s an update available, you’ll be able to install it from there.

You can also visit the Verify Java Version page, but unless you’re using Internet Explorer, it won’t be able to tell you if you’re even running Java. If you’re on Windows 10, that’s also the easiest way to check your version.

Java 8 Update 201 addresses five security vulnerabilities in earlier versions. The details are listed in the quarterly advisory.

Patch Tuesday for January 2019

Patch Tuesday: the gift that keeps on giving. Imagine a world where the second Tuesday in a month came and went, with no updates to install. Something to celebrate. Meanwhile, back in the real world, there’s an apparently infinite supply of software bugs out there, most as-yet undiscovered.

But back to the matter at hand. Microsoft’s Security Update Guide is still annoying to use on the web, so I recommend downloading this month’s patch details in the form of a spreadsheet. Navigate to the SUG, which by default will show the updates for this month. You should see a ‘Download’ link to the far right of the Security Updates heading. Click that link and open the spreadsheet in Excel or something compatible. In Excel, depending on the version, you should be able to enable the Filter feature, which makes each column heading a drop-down control, allowing you to filter and sort on any column. Very handy.

This month Microsoft is issuing seventy-three bulletins, each corresponding to an update for one or more security vulnerabilities. Forty-eight vulnerabilities are addressed by the updates, which affect the usual targets, namely Windows, Internet Explorer, Edge, Office, .NET, Flash (in IE and Edge), Visual Studio, and Exchange Server.

Windows 10 users will get relevant updates whether they want them or not, as will anyone using older versions of Windows with automatic updates enabled. The rest of us will need to head to Windows Update and click the Check for Updates button.

Adobe logoFrom Adobe, we get a new version of Flash, to go along with last week’s new version of Reader.

The latest Flash is version 32.0.0.114, and it includes fixes for feature and performance bugs, but — surprisingly — none for security bugs.

As usual, the Flash embedded in Chrome will update itself along with the browser, while IE and Edge updates are provided via Windows Update. Your Flash installation may be configured to install updates automatically, but if not, head to the main Flash Player page, which will let you know if you need an update, and provide links.

The new version of Reader (Acrobat Reader DC), made available by Adobe on January 3, is A2019.010.20069. Flash 2019.010.20069 includes fixes for two Critical security issues.

Newer installations of Reader seem to keep themselves up to date, but you can grab the latest version at the Get Reader page. Remember to disable the optional applications, or you’ll get what is likely unwanted software such as McAfee antivirus products.

Special security update for Internet Explorer

Last week Microsoft issued an unscheduled security update that fixes a serious security vulnerability in Internet Explorer 9, 10, and 11.

According to Microsoft, this vulnerability is currently being exploited on the web, which means that malicious activity that takes advantage of the security hole has been observed.

Details of the vulnerability can be found in Microsoft’s Security Update Guide.

Anyone who still uses Internet Explorer for web browsing should install this update by running Windows Update in the Windows Control Panel or system settings.

Chrome 71.0.3578.98 fixes one security bug

A lone security vulnerability is addressed in the latest Chrome, version 71.0.3578.98. The full change log documents about twenty changes in all.

Chrome keeps itself up to date, mostly whether you want it to or not. I’ve long since stopped fighting Google’s automatic updates on my own computers, partly because those updates never seem to cause problems, which is refreshingly different from Microsoft’s sad history.

On the other hand, Chrome may not get around to updating itself for a while; Chrome release announcements usually include boilerplate text saying that the new version “will roll out over the coming days/weeks.” You can get it up to date right now by clicking its menu button and choosing Help > About Google Chrome.

Firefox 64.0 fixes eleven security bugs

The latest Firefox fixes a handful of bugs, eleven of them security vulnerabilities, ranging in impact from low to critical.

New in Firefox 64.0 is the ability to select and manipulate multiple tabs. Hold the Ctrl or Shift key while clicking to select several tabs, then right-click one of the tabs to see some new actions in the context menu. Unfortunately, there’s no visual indication of which tabs have been selected, making this otherwise helpful feature somewhat awkward to use. You can at least see how many tabs you have selected in the context menu, in the Send n Tabs To Device entry.

Firefox’s Task Manager, which you can show by navigating to about:performance, now shows the amount of power being used by each tab and Add-On. This should be very handy for mobile device users.

Starting with Firefox 64.0, TLS certificates issued by Symantec are no longer trusted. You’ll only notice this if you visit a web site that still uses a certificate from Symantec.

The special page about:crashes is improved in Firefox 64.0: it’s now clear when a crash is being submitted to Mozilla, and that removing crashes locally does not remove them from the Mozilla crash stats page.

The release notes for Firefox 64.0 have more details.

Patch Tuesday for December 2018

It’s the second Tuesday of the month, so it’s once again time to play Patch Or Else, brought to you by Microsoft and Adobe.

It’s easy to get complacent about updating software: diligently installing updates as soon as they become available is an essential part of a good security strategy, and it means you’re less likely to fall afoul of malicious activity. But it also means that after a while you can lose sight of the risk of not staying up to date, and gradually become lax about installing updates. History is filled with stories of lost lessons; it’s apparently in our nature to forget what’s important when we aren’t reminded of the reasons for that importance.

Analysis of Microsoft’s Security Update Guide for the December 2018 updates reveals that this month we have sixty-seven distinct updates, half of which are flagged as having Critical severity. The updates address security issues in Adobe Flash (embedded in Internet Explorer and Edge), Internet Explorer, Edge, .NET, Office, Visual Studio, and Windows.

Update Windows and your other Microsoft software via Windows Update. In Windows 10, open the Start Menu and click on Settings > Update & Security settings > Windows Update. In older versions of Windows, you can find Windows Update in the Control Panel.

Presumably as part of the ongoing push for transparency in response to Windows 10 update problems earlier this year, Microsoft Corporate VP Michael Fortin posted an article, coinciding with this month’s updates, that explains some of the planning that goes into the monthly updates. Fortin points out that “During peak times, we update over 1,000 devices per second”.

Adobe’s contribution to the patch pile this month is a new version of Adobe Reader. The new Reader includes fixes for at least eighty-seven vulnerabilities, many having Critical severity. The release notes for Adobe Reader DC 2019.010.20064 provide additional details. Update Reader by pointing your browser to the Acrobat Reader Download Center.

Flash 32.0.0.101 fixes two security bugs

Released on December 5th, the latest Flash addresses two security vulnerabilities in earlier versions. The security bulletin for Flash 32.0.0.101 provides additional details.

If you’re still using Flash, you should install the new version as soon as possible. If you use a web browser with a Flash plugin enabled, don’t wait: update now. If you’re not sure whether your browser has Flash enabled, visit the Flash Player Help page with that browser. The Help page will detect Flash in your browser, tell you which version is installed, and provide a download link for the latest version.

Web browsers that include their own embedded Flash will be updated via their usual channels: for Microsoft browsers, that means Windows Update. Chrome usually updates itself automatically, but you can trigger an update by navigating its menu to Help > About Google Chrome.

Chrome 71.0.3578.80: lots of security fixes

According to the release announcement, Chrome 71.0.3578.80 addresses forty-three distinct security vulnerabilities in earlier versions of the browser.

The full change log for the new version has over twelve thousand entries, none of which are mentioned in the announcement. Many of the changes appear to be fixes for minor bugs.

To check your version of Chrome, click its menu button and navigate to Help > About Google Chrome. If you’re not running the latest version, you’ll be able to update it from there.

Flash 31.0.0.153: security fix

There’s another new version of Flash: 31.0.0.153. A single Critical security vulnerability is addressed in this version. The vulnerability, when exploited, can allow for arbitrary code execution.

If you’re using a web browser with Flash enabled, you should update it as soon as possible. If you’re not sure whether your browser is enabled for Flash content, head over to the Flash Player Help page. If Flash is installed and enabled in your browser, your Flash version will be shown.

You can install Flash by visiting the main Flash installer page. Make sure to disable all the optional installation checkboxes on that page, or you’ll get unwanted software along with Flash.

As usual, Google Chrome and Microsoft’s browsers, which have their own embedded Flash viewers, are updated separately. Chrome will update itself; Edge and Internet Explorer are updated via the Windows Update service.

Chrome 70.0.3538.110

According to the release announcement for Chrome 70.0.3538.110, the new version fixes a single, High-severity security vulnerability. The change log lists a few additional bug fixes but nothing particularly interesting.

Chrome will update itself automatically on most computers, over the next few days or weeks. If that’s not soon enough for you, click the browser’s menu button at the top right (three vertical dots) and drill down to Help > About Google Chrome. This will show your current version and — usually — offer to install the latest version.

News for me, stuff that matters… to me. Windows, Linux, security, tools & miscellany.